Ben Huber accepting accolades

Rolling with Outages and Fires

Amid power shutoffs, wildfires, destructive winds and air quality issues, NorthBay Healthcare’s team stayed the course in November of 2019, ensuring its hospitals and primary and specialty care operations could operate normally, without affecting patients.

“We’re very proud of the professionalism of our team,” said Aimee Brewer, president of NorthBay Healthcare Group. “Our physicians, nurses, technicians and all support groups worked through the fires and loss of power to ensure patients were not affected. Their continued dedication and professionalism was amazing as they answered the call.”

The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County forced evacuation of 200,000 from homes as well as area hospitals. As a result, 20 acute-care patients evacuated from Healdsburg District Hospital, and another 10 from Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital were admitted to NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield between 6 and 10 p.m. on Nov. 2.

The Healdsburg hospital is a 43-bed facility that serves the communities of Windsor, Geyserville, Cloverdale and Healdsburg. Sutter Santa Rosa, an 84-bed acute care facility, evacuated about 100 patients in all.

“I really appreciate how our nursing leaders and staff accepted 30 patients from Healdsburg and creatively flexed our resources and expertise to care for patients during a very scary time for them and their families,” said Traci Duncan, vice president and Chief Nursing Officer.

“Some were quite complex cases and required intensive care,” said Julie Crouse, R.N., who was the administrative coordinator during the event. “Others were placed in med-surg units.”

On a Sunday morning an unexpected power outage hit NorthBay Medical Center. It was not the result of the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff, but caused by an accident in the area that knocked out a local transformer.

Power went out at 7:31 a.m. Nov. 3 and flickered several times, throwing a breaker that the Engineering Department quickly resolved. Due to continuing high winds, the decision was made to remain on generator power — at least for the emergency plugs and equipment — for most of the day on Sunday.

By 7:30 a.m. Nov. 4, the decision to return to full PG&E power was made, allowing engineering to refill the generator’s fuel tanks. The same winds that fanned flames across the state also blew smoke in and out of Solano County, compelling NorthBay to closely monitor air quality. Special air filters and air-cleansing equipment were deployed in hospitals and medical office buildings.

Rolling power outages may be the new normal in California, and that means NorthBay must continue to be prepared, Aimee said. “NorthBay Healthcare is equipped to manage new challenges as they arrive.”